Formula 2 champion Andy Soucek has joined the Virgin Racing team as its reserve driver for the 2010 season, it was announced on Tuesday. The 24-year-old Spaniard replaces Portuguese Alvaro Parente, whose deal with Virgin fell through after losing one of his sponsors.
Soucek had been actively working on a deal to secure an F1 seat, the Spaniard being linked previously with a move to the Campos Meta team.
"I am thrilled to be joining Virgin Racing," said Soucek. "This role offers me a great opportunity to prepare myself for the Formula 1 environment, which is naturally where my longer-term ambitions lie. I look forward to learning from Timo [Glock] and Lucas [Di Grassi] as well as soaking up as much information as possible from engineering meetings and time on the simulator.
"I would like to thank John Booth and Nick Wirth in particular for the faith they have shown in me at this stage in my career. It is exciting and very motivating to be part of a new structure in such a challenging sport and I hope that my experience can contribute a great deal to the development of the car and team in order to help us progress as quickly as possible."
Soucek will attend the upcoming Barcelona test.
"We are delighted to welcome Andy Soucek to Virgin Racing," said team principal John Booth. "He had a very good season in Formula 2 last year and a positive F1 test with Williams. He is certainly someone we have been keeping a close eye on as we believe he has a great deal of potential.
"We expect him to be a real asset to our development program with the VR-01 and, at the same time, he provides the experience we need should he be required to deputize for one of the race drivers at short notice.
"We are pleased to have finalized our driver lineup and we look forward to having Andy alongside us in Barcelona later this week so he can spend some valuable familiarization time with the team."